Working at We Are Social as creative lead, I spent 6 months helping shape a creative evolution across the International Olympic Committee (IOC) social channels- from a Gen Z-targeted refresh, to Games Time production. The design problem to tackle with the IOC was feed fatigue from a traditional, institutional look and feel on their channels. My role was to implement new forms of art direction across multiple activations and social channels, to give the IOC more thumb-stopping posts, with stories that resonated. While managing and overseeing the design team to bring this to life. Involving everything from the research, concepting, pitching of ideas, to the treatments and executions themselves.
The sporting landscape has transformed, with diversified viewing habits, dwindling attention spans and sports stars transcending into popular culture. In this context the Olympic movement has faced a growing challenge of maintaining relevance with its values for a new generation of sport fans. In our work we sought to answer this challenge, by exploring culture through the lens of semiotic analysis. Taking this approach our strategic insight led us to the creative platform of ‘Human Potential’. This allowed us to unpack the three Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect, and understand what they have come to represent in culture historically, in the present day, and the future.
Before the Games: Remember the Name
Shining a light on the inspiring first-time Olympians taking the stage in 2021. A simple timeline graphic with a hero image of our athlete, along with the milestones which led them to becoming an Olympian. Broken up in the form of a carousel.
During the Games: Tokyo 2020 Today
A daily round-up of the Games’ events. Borrowing inspiration from comics, graphic novels and magazine covers. Fortunately due to time zones, it was roughly midday by the time daily events had come to a close in Tokyo. Coordinating with the client, we shared a spreadsheet of story suggestions, which fit under certain strategic pillars, and then versioned them out each day in our pre-made templates. This allowed us to speedily get this wrap up activation live on socials each day, while the pre-prepared templates ensured every magazine cover looked different in layout, while having the same treatment style across it.
The Paralympics commented on one of our posts asking for their own activation, when their Games kicked off. So we duly obliged in getting that signed off by the IOC and giving the Paralympics their own magazine wrap up, with a slightly different Art Direction, accounting for the Paralympic brand colour palette.
After the Games: Shining Stars
We wanted to celebrate the athletes who went above and beyond in the games. Those who exhibited friendship, respect and inspired us, even if they didn’t reach the podium. My art direction took inspiration from prestige trading cards and shiny football stickers to immortalise our athletes.
As we had hoped, these post-games executions gained some traction and led to the athletes themselves re-sharing the posts on their channels.
To extend this activation further we wanted to commemorate our celebrated athletes with a physical version of the card itself.
Sending these holographic trading cards directly to our athletes, with a personalised note in premium foil packaging, also increased the likelihood of UGC.
Our intention was for the athletes to feel individually special, as they were one of just 16 to receive these cards. At a basic competition level, which is naturally ingrained into every athlete, they will want to be in that selected 16. Those who didn’t receive one, will want one at the next Games!
In addition, our accompanying personalised notes highlighted that they have received two packs of cards, and suggested they gift the extra one to a coach/teammate/family member who has shared their Olympic journey with them. That built a story within a story, that we hoped they would also post about.
Before the Olympics themselves, there was the bigger job of building out social content that cuts through the noise. The content needed to be Gen-Z focused, while also adhering to some design exploration that the IOC had done, expanding their colour palette and art direction away from its institutional look. We used that as a basis to build upon and come up with activations which evoked stories landing our strategic pillars.
Every now and again, despite the odds being stacked against them, someone comes along and raises the bar for humanity. The Olympic movement provides a world stage for these people, and this content series is where we celebrated them on social. We chose to shine a light on anyone from the Olympic family, from a single person to a community. The people featured were current or former Olympians. When people viewed this content, they’d be in no doubt, the Olympics is where the bar of Human Potential is raised.
School of Excellence
Way before they wrote their name into history, they were just a kid with a head full of dreams and heart full of ambition. We used supers to show these athletes never let anything hold them back and invite the audience to guess who they are. Some were easy – others less so.
Moments at the Olympics leave an impact on viewers all around the world. It’s not only the pinnacle of athletic ability though, it also offers the chance to celebrate the pinnacle of friendship. Proof that, ultimately, we are all one.
Olympic history is littered with heart-warming / tear-jerking moments of friendship. Moments that often transcend barriers. Throughout this series we celebrated the power of friendship to inspire and create change.
More than Medals
More Than Medals saw historic Olympic moments reimagined and reconstructed with a bespoke 3D motion piece. Moving away from traditional archival storytelling, we chose to tell these stories in a minimal way, bringing them into the modern era and giving them that share factor! More Than Medals was designed to educate our audience on some of the brilliant and most respectful fair-play moments in Olympic history and then inspire our audience to share their own.
As with any social rollout, hygiene content was needed. Which came in the form of quotes. Each quote had a unique design. They were not united by a consistent layout, but instead, a consistent energy. A bright and positive colour palette inspired by the colours of the famous 5 rings formed our backgrounds. Post copy dug deep into the story and reinforced the ‘Human Potential’ take on excellence, friendship and respect.